Saturday, February 26, 2011

44 BBY: Jedi Apprentice: The Captive Temple

I think I’ve underestimated Xanatos as a villain. If someone is able to break into the Jedi Temple, conceal their movements, collect a new apprentice (is Bruck his brother?) and make an attempt on Master Yoda’s life, they are a dangerous person indeed. If before I read these books you were to tell me that such a laundry list of capable feats was accomplished by a character named Xanatos, I would have replied with “Xanatos who?”. I would assume this list of accomplishments could only be reserved for the likes of Cad Bane, Boba Fett, or any number of Dark Lords of the Sith – I think Maul could probably get away with something like this as well, despite his poor showing in The Phantom Menace.

I think I’ve underestimated Xanatos because I don’t know much about him – yet when I list what I do know about him it becomes quite clear that he’s a 3-dimensional character. We are told he was once Qui-Gon’s apprentice, was the son of a powerful ruler from the planet Telos, watched Qui-Gon kill his father, and is the head of a powerful mining corporation. After the events of The Captive Temple, it is evident he’s just as dangerous as any of these other character’s that I’ve mentioned above – well, maybe not AS dangerous, but obviously pretty close. He can hold his own against Qui-Gon in a lightsaber duel. That’s something.

There is a great back-story to Xanatos, and his motivations make sense. I guess that’s why Dark Horse is doing a story arc about him and Qui-Gon. I’m looking forward to its release, as it will bring Xanatos out from the pages of “Scholastic” children’s books. I’ll talk more about what I mean by this in a second.

I’m rooting for Xanatos. It’s not that I want him to win, but I do want these books to have a proficient villain, someone who I fear could capably get away with “it”. I think another reason I’ve underestimated him as a villain, in a literary sense I guess, is because he appears in the pages of Star Wars children’s books. This is a silly reason to dismiss his ‘villainess’, but one I fear I’m guilty of. Because he doesn’t appear in a “real” Star Wars book, he’s not a “real” villain.

When it comes to Star Wars sources, I don’t want to have an exclusivist mentality when dealing with the history of this universe. I’ve actively ignored the idea of levels of canon, because, quite frankly, I find the notion to elitist. I understand why many people like the idea, and in absence of such a structure would probably demand such an organization in place. Hierarchy provides clarity, along with right and wrong answers. My entire religious tradition is built upon the idea of hierarchy – it provides stability. However, I don’t like the idea of “levels of canon” because it puts some artist’s contribution to Star Wars over others, and creates a hierarchy of meaning, with George at the top, and someone like Darko Macan at the bottom. Many would argue that this is a good thing, and I think that some of their arguments would make sense, but I really don’t like the idea of George Lucas being the “God” of the Star Wars universe, or of there being "George's Star Wars" and "Everything else".

I have a very conflicted reconciliation to the idea of “levels of canon’, and one I’m not sure I’ve worked out entirely in my mind, but I think I’m going to stop this tangent here, as I want to deal with this idea, but I want to deal with it when I get to the novel Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, and Lucas’ forward to that book. To clarify what I’m trying to say (and so very poorly as well) is, just because Xanatos was introduced to Star Wars history in a children’s book, doesn’t’ mean he’s not a badass villain – and most of you probably already knew this. I think I’ve just had to come to terms with my own elitist and exclusivist self.

Moving in a different direction, it was interesting to come across Mace Windu in Star Wars history again. Good ol’ Mace cut right to the chase and put Obi-Wan in his place: “Mace Windu’s sharp gaze cut him like ice ‘I think the Jedi can manage to solve the crisis without that kind of help from you’” (8). Translation: we don’t need any meddling kids, Scooby gang, or curious magical children solving our problems for us – piss off! I was like ‘Finally! An adult stepping up!’

All in all it’s great to watch the development of Obi-Wan as a Knight, how he deals with death, and how he deals with killing. It’s going to be fun engaging with Obi-Wan down the line in history, knowing what I know about his past. It’s a great feeling – engaging with characters whose extensive history you are familiar with.

For my next post I’m going to talk about book 8 in the Jedi Apprentice series: The Day of Reckoning, but before I sign off, I want to ask you all how I should deal with the next few upcoming sources, namely, The Stark Hyperspace War and Rite of Passage. It is best for me to deal with them as flashbacks at 44 BBY, or would it be better if I waited until they appear again at 30 BBY (The Stark Hyperspace War), and 29 BBY (Rite of Passage)?

Let me know what you all think.

Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.


  1. The Stark Hyperspace War is mostly flashbacks to 44 BBY, but it's main story is the Jedi Council telling about the war to Aayla Secura, and it works better if you read it in it's frame story place at 30 BBY. So it's like that Jango Fett comic Open Seasons which you decided to deal with when you get to the frame story's place.

    Rite of Passage has only one nine-page-long flashback to Quinlan Vos' youth, and it's relevant to the plot, so I think you'd better deal with it at 29 BBY.

    And Xanatos is a very good villain, and this novel sets up him very well as a strategic and fighter. And rising from the water is always a nice way to show up.

    I agree with your idea of hierarchy, it is needed for many, but I don't give it much weight. Especially because when there are contradictions between different levels, the result is usually some kind of compromise.

    Mace Windu certainly gets a point for trying to keep Obi-Wan out of the investigation. Shame that in the rest of the novel he still doesn't do anything. But at least he didn't mind-read all clues from Obi-Wan's head and then do nothing as Dumbledore did (that is some pet peeve for me too, but as Harry Potter is one of the things that defined my childhood and definitely will define my adulthood (along Star Wars and Lord of the Rings) I'll not rant any longer).

    I need to hurry, I just finished The Captive Temple today and have not started The Day of Reckoning yet, and from what I remember it has also very thought-provoking parts. These series are not any weaker than the "adult" books, which I started to read when I was ten or so.

  2. I take your point that these books are not any better or worse than the adult books. You're right - there not.

    Rising from the water was a pretty cool entrance :)

    I wish I had something like Harry Potter a kid. I had the Hardy Boys (at least that's what my dad gave me to read), not bad, but not magical.

  3. Also, thank you for your insights into The Stark Hyperspace War and Rite of Passage. I think I'll take your advice and deal with each at their respective in-univese dates.

  4. Wow, you're blazing through these book pretty quickly. :-)
    I agree with you about Xanatos. I think he's one of the best characters Watson created and am very much looking forward to the upcoming comic.
    As for Rite of Passage and the Stark Hyperspace War, I have to give conflicting advice. I agree that Rite of Passage should be read later when you get to the main body of the story (the flashback won't really make much sense or have any significance outside of the main story). However, I think SHW should be read earlier. Most of the story is the flashback, so I think it makes sense to focus on it then rather than where the frame story is set. There's also an entry in Jedi vs. Sith (page 84-5) that takes place after the Stark Hyperspace War, so it would be nice to cover that entry after hitting the comic story.

  5. Covering the SHW flashback first would definitely work, although doing it during the frame story could serve as a little break from the Ongoing to return to this time period. Either way.

  6. Thanks for the advice. I'll give the Star Hyperspace War a read at it's flashback date, and make a judgement call from there.

    Blazing through these books is going to end for a while. The business of work has picked up again and the Rugby season (I'm a coach) is about to set into high gear, so the next book may have to wait for about a week.

    Anyway, like I said, I'll give the SHW a read and go from there.


  7. You know what? After really thinking about it I take my words from Stark Hyperspace War back. It tells the story of major incident before Episode I and actually gives very good information about the Republic, the Jedi and future major characters during this time. So it's almost essential in setting the tone for this era, and reading its story from the major source, the comic, is the best advice I can give.

    And I'd say good luck for your team, but as we know, there's no such thing as luck. Unless we don't take old Ben's words literally as the blog you linked a while ago suggested. :)

  8. No, Bruck is not Xanatos' brother. They aren't related, according to Wookieepedia. Xanatos does have a sister Nason, though, but I don't think they mention her in any books.
    And yes, as I said in my other comments, Xanatos is an awesome villain. If these stories are connon enough, or if I can find a way to get around the rules, I would love to be him in the 501st Legion... =)

  9. Wow, Xanatos has a sister. I had no idea. Super interesting. Here is a female protagonist with a story tell. Maybe you could write something about her? I have yet to see a Xanatos costume. Such a project would be awesome.

  10. I will include Nason in the book, though I'm sure most of it will be from my imagination, since I don't think there is very much info on her. I do know that she died in a riot on Telos though...
    Maybe after I'm done with Xanatos, I'll write a book about just her.
    And the costume would be so cool. I was imagining how I would do it when I was reading The Day of Reckoning.
    It'll probably be wierd to be Xanatos because I'm a girl, but I don't really care. I mean, girls dress up like Darth Vader, right?
    But I wonder what my sister will think...she read the books, too.

  11. Both the story about Nason and the costume sound like awesome ideas. I'm sure no one will have a problem with a girl dressing up as Xanatos, most people would probably think it's pretty cool.

  12. =D thanks!! If you haven't noticed, my profile pic on the "followers" is Xanatos...I'm a little obssessed, I know.